CONCEPT: After taking over the management contract of the Galleria Park Hotel from Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants in 2005, Joie de Vivre Hospitality— in keeping with its magazine approach to hotels— decided to totally reformat the property. The hotel originally opened in 1911 as the Sutter Hotel and is a fixture in San Francisco’s Financial District. The goal of the renovation was to bring the historic property into the 21st Century as a vibrant boutique experience, while also recognizing its longevity.
Designers Marni Leis and Oren Bronstein, who have done a significant number of Joie de Vivre properties, brought a 1930s/1940s flair to the renovation with an approach designed to “respect the architecture and the history of the building, but to also relate it to a current San Francisco outlook…Generally, hospitality design is tricky; you have to dazzle your guests and impress them. At the same time, you shouldn’t ‘overawe’ them; they should be comfortable. So you’re walking this fine line of dazzle/practical,” said Leis, who noted in some cases, “high design forgets to welcome people.”
EXECUTION: Rooms were taken out of inventory two floors at a time, and in the lobby crews worked at night. The lobby was outfitted in tones of gold, green and blue. Leis characterized the old lobby as disheveled and sad, against the renovated lobby, which, she said, “has a very tight concept” with “a lot of drama” but at the same time is “welcoming and comfortable.”
While guestrooms received “sexy and cool” colors like eggplant, aquamarine and citron, more than paint was involved. The designers added accents of crystal and polished nickel for eye appeal. In addition to new FF&E, guestrooms received cutting-edge touches such as flat-screen televisions and alarm clocks with MP3 connectors, as well as pillow-top mattresses, 300-thread-count linens and electronic door locks. Artwork from San Francisco’s Lost Art Salon— works from the 1930s,’40s and ’50s by local artists— was reproduced and now adorns the walls.
RESULT: All areas of the 177-room hotel were redone in the $7.1 million renovation. The revamp restored a number of the hotel’s traditional elements while integrating contemporary accents and amenities. Leis noted the design has given the staff a renewed sense of place and long-time guests have been “thrilled” with the new look.
According to Joie de Vivre founder/CEO Chip Conley, the hotel now fits in with the image of all the company’s properties, which is “to create landmark destinations full of soul and personality.”